1. Richard Nash, one of the most well-liked indie publishers on the scene, is leaving Soft Skull/Counterpoint. His blog announcement offers few clues, but we can read between the lines and guess that a) he couldn’t take any more of the new ownership and b) he’s going to start his own publishing firm.
As for Soft Skull’s future, Eric Rosenfield twittered that he can’t picture Soft Skull without Nash, but this only proves that Eric is young, since Nash is not the first but the second charismatic leader in Soft Skull’s exciting history. But, yeah, Sander Hicks and Richard Nash … that’s two tough acts to follow. I’m curious to see if anyone will turn up with the heart to try.
2. Adam Begley, who will be writing a major biography of the late John Updike, says “My principal aim in writing his biography will be to illuminate for the reader the nature of his character and of his greatest accomplishments”. Ahh, cut the sanctimony. If that’s all the book does, nobody will want to read it. Updike’s artfully self-referential work revolved around the core topic of love, marriage, adultery and sex — has he ever written a story or novel that was not a love story? — and we want to know the real life juicy facts behind all this juicy fiction.
3. The fact that Michiko Kakutani hates Jonathan Littell’s much-hyped The Kindly Ones means absolutely nothing to me. The fact that Michael Orthofer hates it means much more. E. J. Van Lanen posts a dissenting opinion, as does Steve Mitchelmore. I haven’t even seen the book yet, but I sure am curious whether I’ll join the fan club or not.
5. A really beautiful text visualization of literary St. Petersburg is featured at the New Yorker’s blog. The Mercedes-Benz ad that pops up when you view the page is much less beautiful.
6. More Leningrad visualizations: Superimpositions of war and peace.
7. And even more Russian stuff: Cecil Vortex conducts the Brothers Karamazov deathmarch.
8. Musings on Damon Runyon.
9. Christopher Nolan, author of Under the Eye of the Clock and Dam Burst of Dreams, has died.
10. Greg Sandow of the Wall Street Journal says The Arts Need Better Arguments to gain a better share of public funding.
11. Mental Floss will be listing The 25 Most Influential Books of the Past 25 Years.
12. The Oxonian Review on The Collected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Synder.